Apr 23, 2015

T is for Tweak (or Transform)

You’ve sent off a few dozen query letters – yielding a couple of FULL requests – so you’re feeling pretty good about things. Then you receive a response from one of your dream agents, and although she likes the premise, she wants to see some changes made before she considers going forward. And these are SIGNIFICANT changes.

What do you do?

One of my critique partners recently faced this quandary – and you could too if you’re actively querying or preparing to. Have you thought about what you’d do if you were faced with that scenario?

I know…I know…it depends on the changes. What one person considers a tweak, another might see as an overhaul. I contend that is also depends how far along you are in the querying process. A couple dozen queries, especially if they’ve already hooked some FULL manuscript requests, is far too early to contemplate making drastic changes. Be patient. Let the process work. Then if you haven’t seen results after 50+ attempts (there are some that would say 75+), then think about it. Even still, only make the changes if YOU feel it makes the story stronger and can live with the results.

Because even if you do make the requested modifications, there is still no guarantee that the agent in question will want to sign you.

As far as my CP goes – she decided to hold true and see what future responses would bring, but she struggled with the decision. The instinct to jump at an opportunity, whatever the consequences is a strong one – fueled by a writer’s tendency towards self-doubt.

What would you do?


  1. It's a tough question, because on the one hand this is your baby, that you've nurtured to fruition. But on the other, you want to see it succeed. I'm stubborn though - I'd probably hold true to my vision for the book.

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

  2. Been there - and it's hard. Ultimately you have to do what feels right!

  3. I'v never had a full request for one of my queries. With the eBooks I have published now, they ask for the full manuscript with the query. I'm still waiting for that day when I get a full request...and an agent.

    I have made significant changes to one of my stories...Ghost of Death, the story that is out now. I changed it from first person to third and had to age the character. Good thing it was a short story though. Making changes like that for a novel would've been brutal.l

  4. I've been there a couple of times. I did a complete overhaul on one of my books because an agent suggested a significant change in the second half. She still didn't love the book enough after that to offer on it. But having already made that change, it made revising the book when I did get an agent a little easier because I could take things from both versions as I needed to….

  5. I'm with your CP. I really believe you have got to be true to yourself and your story, at least when you're just starting out. One man's ceiling is another man's floor.